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Is An LGBT Superhero Film Far Off?

Kylenorthstar

Comic book fans had lots to rejoice about yesterday when Marvel Studios announced its upcoming slate of new films. In addition to sequels for the critically and commercially successful Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy films, Marvel is making history with its first film led by a black superhero, Black Panther, and its first anchored by a female, Captain Marvel.

ThorIt’s just the latest move coming out of comic book culture, where publishers have been redefining mainstream heroes as a more diverse bunch. Many of the familiar (straight, white, male) characters — most of which got their start decades ago — are being joined by a growing number of heroes that reflect a richer representation. In addition to the female Captain Marvel, Marvel’s also recently started publishing series focusing on a female Thor, a black Captain America and a wildly successful book based on a Muslim American teenager, Ms. Marvel.

This surge in inclusivity extends to LGBT characters as well. From lesbian crimefighter Batwoman to young mutant Benjamin Deeds, there’s a growing number of queer mainstream characters that could become the next Batman, Wolverine or the Flash, conquering the box office or leading a television series.

“As pop culture goes, it's never been hotter to be a geek,” wrote Jono Jarrett, a founding board member of GeeksOUT, an organization dedicated to promoting LGBT inclusiveness in the geek community. “Politically, across the world queer visibility and acceptance are on the rise—or where it's not, it's being challenged like never before.”

With this momentum on and off the page, could it be long before we see an LGBT superhero take the spotlight on the large or small screen?

Learn more about the state of queer characters in comic books today, AFTER THE JUMP

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NBC Straightwashes Its John Constantine

140509_2781062_Constantine_Official_Trailer

2005’s Constantine, directed by Francis Lewis, was essentially an excuse to watch Keanu Reeves smoulder on screen and Tilda Swinton rock a pair of post-modern angel wings. Constantine, which was based on Vertigo Comics’s Hellblazer series, was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. The movie bore little resemblance to the source material other its characters’ names. John Constantine was no longer blonde, English, charming, or apparently bisexual the way he’d been on the pages of Hellblazer.

Late last year Deadline reported that NBC had greenlit a Constantine reboot for its fall lineup. As casting announcements were made and promotional footage released, fans of the comics were left wondering if this incarnation of the supernatural antihero would be truer to its roots.

M3ywffzyvmwu7jzedbenDaniel Cerone, executive producer for NBC’s Constantine, set the record straight this past Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s press junket. One of the more interesting things about the Hellblazer series was that its characters aged in real time over the book’s 30 year run. Bisexual as Constantine may have been, the bulk of his love interests were women.

“[T]here might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man.” Cerone explained, musing about future developments for the character. “So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”

Unlike his love of cigarettes, Constantine’s sexuality was never exactly an ancillary aspect of his character. But it wasn’t something that the character himself, and his writers by extension, ever outright dismissed or retconned. Charlie Jane Anders of io9 agrees that the NBC’s decision to tone down Constantine’s smoking is a little more egregious, but felt as if the network definitely missed an opportunity:

I didn't mean to skate over this issue quite so glibly — blame deadlines and pre-Comic-Con phone calls. I do think erasing queer people from pop culture is a shitty thing to do, and we desperately need more pop culture that represents the whole range of human sexuality. And it really wouldn't have cost much for them to include an aside about ex-boyfriends along with ex-girlfriends. At the same time, to me the most important aspect of John Constantine is not who he fucks, but who he fucks over.  

A Pew study published last June reported that bisexually identified individuals composed the largest percentage of their survey sample that included gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgendered people. Conversely, on average lesbians and gays reported being far more open with friends and family about their sexual orientation than their bisexual counterparts.

One of the major challenges to combating what many queer people have identified as “bi-invisibility,” is finding opportunities to introduce bisexuals into the popular conscious. Calls to action for compulsory comings out for bisexuals are neither moral nor realistic, but programming like Constantine has the potential to push that conversation in the right direction.

Check out the promo for the new Constantine AFTER THE JUMP...

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'Batwoman' Writers Quit as DC Comics 'Prohibits' Lesbian Marriage

Batwoman

Back in February we wrote about a groundbreaking revelation in DC Comics' Batwoman — that Kate Kane, the Batwoman, asked Maggie Sawyer, her secret girlfriend, to marry her.

Now it appears that marriage is an especially ill-fated one, as in it's not going to happen, and Batwoman's co-authors J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman are taking that news public and quitting the comic, accusing DC of getting in the way.

BatwomanWrite the authors on their blog:

Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.

We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26.

We’re both heartbroken over leaving, but we feel strongly that you all deserve stories that push the character and the series forward. We can’t reliably do our best work if our plans are scrapped at the last minute, so we’re stepping aside. We are committed to bringing our run to a satisfying conclusion and we think that Issue 26 will leave a lasting impression.

Williams later clarified via Twitter:

"Not wanting to be inflammatory, only factual- We fought to get them engaged, but were told emphatically no marriage can result...But must clarify- was never put to us as being anti-gay marriage."

Bleeding Cool notes that Batwoman has won two GLAAD awards for its portrayal of gay characters.


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